Important notice: Some of our classes are incorrectly showing ‘Class Full’ for some users due to a technical issue. Our engineers are working on it and we hope to have this resolved shortly.
Until then if you want to double check class availability, you can still log in and book via the triyoga Client Portal here.
If you need help please contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

Important notice: Our booking system supplier is currently experiencing technical issues, which is causing account and checkout actions to fail in some cases. Their engineers are urgently working on it. Until then, you should be able to log in and book via 1) the triyoga app or 2) the triyoga Client Portal here. Or if you need help please contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

Important notice: Due to a global IT outage upstream, you may experience issues with booking, purchasing, or logging in. Their engineers are working on resolving this as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience

Important notice: Some users are experiencing login issues due to a technical issue upstream with our booking system provider. Their engineers are working on it. Until then you can still log in and book via 1) the triyoga app or 2) the triyoga Client Portal here.

Important notice: Our booking schedules are temporarily down due to a technical issue. Our engineers are working on it and we hope to have this resolved very shortly.
Until then, if you need help please email our customer care team at [email protected] or contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

asana + anatomy for your neck + shoulders

Osteopath and yoga teacher Tim Goullet gives us an insight into human anatomy and kinesiology as applicable to yoga asana. Go deeper with his upcoming weekend course – anatomy in motion: the head, neck + upper limb in action.

The healing benefits of a regular yoga practice are well known, from helping with back pain to improving digestion. In essence, yoga asanas bend and twist our bodies into a myriad of shapes with a specific focus on the breath. This combination of movement with rhythmic breathing is the hallmark of yoga, along with the mindfulness necessary to integrate these two elements.

However, it is also possible to cause problems in the body when asanas are performed in a way which creates tension in our muscles. There is a big difference between muscle tone and muscle tension; tension creates excessive muscle tone which then resists relaxation and remains hard even at rest.

As an osteopath I have been treating yoga practitioners for 20 years and have found it equally important to assess the way certain asanas are performed.  Over the years I’ve seen a pattern emerge, where pain and stiffness often return even though it may have felt improved after the treatment.

There is a fine line between an asana that creates good muscle tone and flexibility, and one that creates muscle tension and ultimately stiffness. It’s all in the way you do it and one size does not fit all – our bodies are so diverse that we will find some asanas natural and others less so. Being realistic in our approach to asanas we find challenging is important – working towards them carefully without creating tension.

The neck and shoulders tend to work very closely together. Tension in the neck usually gets into the shoulders and vice versa. Asymmetry of shoulder heights usually causes a neck problem sooner than later. If the asymmetry is obvious, head stand should be avoided until this is treated and reduced, if not eliminated.

Postural patterns + yoga

Pattern one – shoulders rounded forward and neck excessively arched.
Often this pattern has its roots in falls on the back in childhood or too much desk work. A typical problem with this postural pattern is the neck being taken too far backwards in asanas like upward dog and camel. This is even worse if the shoulders are rounded forward and inwards.

Potential symptoms – Referred pain, pins and needles or numbness down the arm(s), morning headache and neck pain of course!

Solution – Create a good backbend in the thoracic spine to help open the shoulders. Once established, then slowly take the head backwards to complete an arching of the whole spine without kinking the neck.

Pattern two – shoulders tense and raised up.
This pattern can be due to an old neck injury, breathing patterns, abdominal problems or even psychological issues. The problem can be aggravated by asanas with one or both hands raised above the head such as chair pose, warrior one and some side angles.

Potential symptoms – Chronic tension in shoulders and neck that does not respond to massage therapy or osteopathy apart from short term relief. Neck and shoulder pain, worse in the morning the day after practice.

Solution – Concentrate on keeping your shoulder blades drawing down your back when your arms are raised. Check one shoulder with the opposite arm to feel if it’s bunching up – if so, try to soften it by drawing the shoulder down. Experiment with arm positions e.g. if prayer position overhead creates too much tension, try parallel arms.

Join Tim Goullet and Esther Benwell in Soho…
anatomy in motion: the head, neck + upper limb in action
28 – 29 March, £180
Click here for details and to book.

Tim Goullet runs The Chelsea Osteopathic Practice at triyoga Chelsea and specialises in treating yoga practitioners with his unique blend of analysis and treatment.

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